Australia. Robot submarine arrives to film Centaur wreck

Wednesday, 06 January 2010

The robot submarine that will film the wreck of the AHS Centaur over two kilometres underwater has arrived in Brisbane.

Acting Premier Paul Lucas inspected the Remotely Operated Vehicle or ROV today.

"It was an unforgettable moment when the news came through that search Director David Mearns had found the Centaur early on the morning of December 20," said Mr Lucas.

"It will be an extremely poignant time for the survivors and relatives of those that perished on this ship when this machine sends us images of the wreck on the seabed."

The AHS Centaur was sunk without warning by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943, about 50 miles east north-east of Brisbane. Of the 332 persons on board, only 64 survived.

The wreck location is approximately 30 miles due east of the southern tip of Moreton Island (27 deg 16.98' South, 153 deg 59.22' East) at a depth of 2,059 metres.

The ROV will be launched from the Seahorse Spirit, the ship used to find the Centaur, and travel to the seabed after the ship leaves for the wreck site on Thursday or Friday this week. The device will be controlled by operatives working in a specially equipped shipping container on the Seahorse Spirit.

Special lights will be used to illuminate the wreck on the sea bed so that high definition video can be recorded. The images will be transmitted in real time to a separate control room on the ship and a photographer, print journalist and television cameraman will travel on the vessel.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Federal Government is pleased the wreck has been located and that Australians may soon be able to see the final resting place of those that died on that terrible day.

"The sinking of the Centaur was a dark day for our nation. This exploration will allow us to see what became of the AHS Centaur and honour those brave men and women that lost their lives," Ms Gillard said.

Acting Premier Paul Lucas said the robot submarine, will also use one of its two 'arms' to place the specially fabricated bronze plaque created by The CENTAUR Association near the wreck.

"This will be a fitting memorial to those who perished in this terrible wartime incident," he said.

"The Centaur Commemoration Taskforce met for the first time this week and they will meet again in the coming weeks and months to establish the most fitting memorial for the Centaur.

"We want the memorial service to take place at the earliest opportunity in consultation with the needs of the survivors and family members."

Search Director David Mearns said mobilisation of the equipment onto the Seahorse Spirit was progressing well.

"I am looking forward to catching the first glimpse of the CENTAUR since she was lost on that tragic day in May of 1943," he said.

"It is going to be a challenging operation to film the wreck where she lies at the bottom of a very narrow and steep gully, but I am still expecting to collect the highest quality video and photographs of the wreck possible even though we can't be sure whether the hull is lying upright or on its side.

"The one moment I know the entire team will be looking forward to is when we can lay the specially fabricated bronze plaque entrusted to us by The CENTAUR Association near the wreck as a lasting memorial to the 268 who were lost during the sinking."

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 January 2010 )